Brasília, Brazil, April 14, 2012—Hoping that the Brazilian sand continues to produce golden dividends, 11 men and 11 women’s teams from the host country are anxious to start the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour Sunday at the Brasília Open in Brazil’s capital city. In a country filled with superstars on the beach, leading Brazil this week will be 2011 men’s season and world champions Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego and compatriots Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca, who also won the same two women’s crowns in 2011.
A revised total of 68 men’s and 68 women’s teams from 35 countries are officially entered in the season-opening event on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour calendar in Brazil. The road to the 2012 London Olympic Games resumes as 16 of the 24 teams in each gender will be determined through year-long Olympic rankings on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. The 16 top qualifiers in each gender will be determined following the Grand Slam event in Rome June 12-17.
In a country where its star athletes are known mostly by just one name, this fearsome foursome are known in Brazil simply as Alison, Emanuel, Juliana and Larissa. And two of them are celebrating birthdays this weekend as Emanuel turns 39 on Sunday and Larissa had her 30th today.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary of the first FIVB-sanctioned event (Rio de Janeiro in 1987), the international beach volleyball circuit begins for the fourth consecutive season with the US$380,000 Brasília Open to be held this Sunday through next Sunday (April 22) on The Esplanada dos Ministérios in Quadrante 1 as the Brazilian capital will be celebrating its 52nd anniversary next Saturday. The tournament will be the first of nine double-gender events on the 2012 schedule. Women’s action starts with country quota matches Sunday for duos from Brazil and Germany while the men’s competition begins Tuesday with country quota matches for teams from Brazil, Canada and the United States. The qualification tournament for women will be held on Monday and the men on Tuesday to determine the last eight spots in the 32-team main draw field for each gender.
Brazil has staged a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event every year since the start of the international series for men in 1989 and women in 1992. This will be the 34th men’s event and 29th women’s tournament on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour held in Brazil. It will also be the 14th time that the FIVB SWATCH World Tour will have its season-opening event in Brazil. In the 33 men’s tournaments, Brazil has earned 59 total medals -18 gold, 21 silver and 20 bronze.
Brazilian National Tour
A contributing factor to the Brazilian’s success has been the fact that several events on the Brazilian National Tour are always held prior to the season-opening FIVB SWATCH World Tour stop as the international season has opened in Brazil 13 previous times in the 24-year history of the tour for men and nine in 20 seasons for women. In the last three season-openers in Brasília, Brazil has captured six of nine men’s medals and four of nine women’s medals. Four events have been held on this year’s Brazilian tour with Juliana/Larissa winning three of the women’s events and Alison/Cerutti capturing the last two men’s tournaments. In all 10 of the top 12 men’s point leaders in the Brazilian tour are entered here along with 11 of the top 12 women’s leaders. The Brazilian tour will resume in September after the 2012 London Olympic Games and the majority of the FIVB SWATCH World Tour is completed.
Brazilian women’s teams
The top women’s team heading into the 2012 season is Brazil’s reigning FIVB SWATCH World Tour champions Juliana and Larissa, who are the all-time FIVB career gold medal winners for women with 42. Last season, starting with their title in Brasília, Juliana/Larissa combined to win six gold medals including the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Championships in Rome. Larissa turned 30 years of age today.
“I believe that playing in the London Olympic Games will be a very good opportunity for us as we are in one of our best moments, both on the personal and professional sides”, reflected Juliana on the eve of the season opener. “We are certainly better prepared than we were in 2008. Being out of the Beijing Olympic was a big pain for me, literally and personally, but I also learned and improved a lot with all that has happened since then.”
In 2010, starting with their title in Brasília, Juliana/Larissa combined to win seven gold medals after winning the season title in 2009 with an FIVB-record eight gold medals. Juliana/Larissa have won the FIVB SWATCH World Tour season crown six out of the last seven years. They have also won the gold medal in the last four FIVB season openers and six in the last seven years.
As a team, Juliana/Larissa have played in 98 FIVB SWATCH World Tour events, earning 79 final four placements including 75 total medals. In addition to the 42 gold medals, the pair has also earned 19 silver medals and 14 bronze. In FIVB events in Brazil, the Juliana/Larissa tandem has won four gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals. When Juliana was sidelined in 2008 with a knee injury, Larissa also won a gold medal in Guaraja, Brazil with Vivian Cunha. Juliana/Larissa have compiled a superb 526-92 all-time FIVB match record for a stunning 85.1 percent winning percentage.
The other 2011 women’s gold medal team from Brazil who will all be in Brasília besides Juliana/Larissa will be Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes (Quebec, Canada). Also in this year’s Brasília Open will be Brazil’s Liliane Maestrini/Angel Vieira who won the gold medal in last year’s Olympic test event in London at Horse Guards Parade, the site of the beach volleyball competition at this year’s Olympic Games.
Among the other 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Tour women’s podium finishers from Brazil who are entered in this event are Maria Clara Salgado (playing this year with Raquel Pellucci) and Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima.
The other Brazilian women’s teams competing here will be Shaylyn Bede/Vanilda Leao, Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Claudinere Bento/Rebecca Cavalcanti, Michelle Carvalho/Michelle Soares Erica Freitas/Tathiana Soaresand Elize Maia/Renata Ribeiro.
Brazilian men’s teams
The top men’s team entering the 2012 season, Brazil’s reigning FIVB SWATCH World Tour Champions Alison/Emanuel earned five gold medals last season including the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Championships in Rome. The legendary Emanuel has 75 career FIVB gold medals and 10 FIVB SWATCH World Tour titles with five different teammates, a FIVB career earnings record of $2,234,885 along with representing Brazil in the last four Olympic Games in his outstanding 18-year, 214-match FIVB career. The Alison/Emanuel tandem is still developing its sand legs as they march to an expected spot in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Having played in just 23 tournaments together, Alison/Emanuel have earned five gold medals, four silvers, six bronze and 16 final four placements while compiling an impressive 115-28 won-loss match record.
“Since Emanuel and I started the partnership, our most important goal was to play in the Olympics,” said Alison, who turned 26 in December of last year. “We are using the first stops of the Brazilian Tour as a preparation and of course we will do the same with the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. These tournaments will be very important for us to get to London and to be in great shape so we can represent Brazil in the best way possible.”
Besides Alison/Emanuel (five), the other 2011 men’s gold medal teams from Brazil who will be competing in Brasília will be Ricardo Santos, Marcio Araujo, Benjamin Insfran and Pedro Cunha. Last season, Santos won one gold with Marcio (Stavenger, Norway) and two with Cunha (Klagenfurt, Austria, The Hague, Netherlands) while Marcio also won a gold medal with Benjamin (Aland, Finland). For this season, Ricardo will start the season with Cunha, Marcio with Pedro Salgado, and Benjamin with Alvaro Filho.
Among the other 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Tour Brazilian podium finishers entered this year is Rhooney Ferramenta who will play this year with Thiago Santos Barbosa after winning a bronze medal in Africa last year with Pedro Salgado.
The other Brazil men’s teams competing will be Bruno de Paula/Hevaldo Moreira, Vitor Felipe/Moises Santos, Gilmario Ferreira/Luciano Ferreira, Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Roberto Pitta/Felipe Rodriguez.
USA’s reigning Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, who defeated Alison/Emanuel each of the last two years in Brazil will be one of the top challengers to the strong Brazilian field in the men’s competition. USA’s two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, who had their FIVB-record 74-match winning streak broke in last year’s Brasília Open gold medal match by Juliana/Larissa, are among the top challengers to the formidable Brazilian women’s field.
The gold medal teams in each gender in the Brasília Open will each split $30,000, the silver $21,000, the bronze $15,000 and fourth place $11,200. The women’s medal matches will be held Friday, April 20 and the men’s medal matches will be played next Sunday (April 22). Here are the official men’s entries as of April 12: